Monday, September 25, 2017

Back to the “Barn” and Where We Went

Following are visit with the Goodman’s in Echo Bay on Sucia Island, we headed to Anacortes for a night and to fuel up. The fuel dock at Cap Sante gives a price break at 750 gallons that consistently lowers its price below that of most other marinas.

We like to go into winter with fuel tanks pretty much full in order to reduce water condensation in the tanks. The drawback is that when we our fuel and water tanks are full, we list badly to the port side.  That list can be addressed by drawing down the port water tank but often that takes a week or so to consume enough water to get us reasonably close to level.  We added 909 gallons which got us within a 100 or so gallons of being totally full (we carry about 1400 usable gallons).  Before we depart next year we’ll top things off.

For the final leg from Anacortes to Eagle Harbor, tides and the Corp of Engineers conspired to make it a 2 day journey.  The tides were such that an early departure would mean fighting a flood current exiting Rosario Strait then fighting an ebb current down Admiralty Inlet.  The Swinomish Channel wasn’t an early morning option because the Corp of Engineers was working on the swing railroad bridge across the channel until 9 am on the morning we wanted to depart.

We did opt for the Swinomish Channel and Saratoga Passage route but ended up anchoring in Elger Bay on Camano Island.  The anchorage is exposed to south winds coming up Puget Sound and partly to west winds blowing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca but was okay the night we stayed there.

An early start on 9/14 got us into Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island in the late morning, ending our 2017 summer cruise.

Our season was 140 days long and covered 3817 miles.  We operated the main engine a total of 656.5 hours.  In calculating an average speed of 6.3 knots, I subtracted 51.1 hours for the idling along while fishing or sightseeing.  We ran the generator 62.2 hours.  In our 139 nights out, we anchored 91 nights, spent 2 nights on a mooring buoy and 46 nights at docks with services.

The map below shows the locations of all our overnight stops along the way. Clicking on a  map symbol displays the location name and some descriptive text of the day’s journey.

To view this as a full page map click on Cruise 2017.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Echo Bay Aerodrome

After the crowds in the Gulf Islands over Labor Day, we crossed Boundary Passage back into the USA.  We’re thankful that we have Nexus cards which allow us to clear back in via phone without reporting for an in-person inspection at one of the very busy stations in Roche or Friday Harbors.  Instead we declared Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island as our first port of call, thereby saving at least 3 hours.

After one night at anchor in Prevost, we continued on to Deer Harbor where our yacht club (Queen City) leases about 120 feet of dock space.  We were fortunate that space was available at the dock when we arrived.  Two other boats arrived later that day and had to raft to those of us tied to the dock.

2017-09-047xAfter relaxing for four days at the dock, we headed to Echo Bay on Sucia Island.  We arranged for our friends, Natala and Don Goodman, to fly in with their float plane.  They live on Lake Sammish, south of Bellingham, and moor their plane there during the summer.  For them it is a short flight to Echo Bay.  After they landed, I helped them tie up to one of the many Washington State Parks buoys in the bay and ferried them over to our boat.

2017-09-055xLater that day, we saw another float plane land in the bay but instead of going to a buoy, it nestled up to the stern of a large yacht. It turned out, that Don knew its owners, a couple who lived in Anacortes. The next day, after Don & Natala departed, the people in the yacht flew off in their airplane and 2017-09-054xreturned with an additional float plane (they are both pilots).  They moored the second airplane at a buoy as Don had.

2017-09-062xLater that afternoon, a third float plane came in and landed in Echo Bay.  This one taxied up to shore where its pilot tethered it to shore and set up is camp in the trees nearby.  He came in near high tide so his plane was soon high & dry.

In a period of less than 24 hours, Echo Bay had four separate floatplanes joining the dozen or so power and sail boats enjoying the splendid late summer weather in Echo Bay.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Wilderness – Not Wilderness

Every year on our journey south from SE Alaska, one of the difficult adjustments we have to make is to the increased number of boaters in anchorages the further south we go. 

In SE Alaska, we become accustom to being the only boat in an anchorage.  Occasionally, we will share an anchorage with 1 or 2 other boats.  In the most popular anchorages, a half-dozen is a crowd.  The same goes for many of the northern BC anchorages if you aren’t on the main route of Grenville Channel/Princess Royal Channel (aka “the Ditch”).

The photo below is taken on a paddle from our anchorage in Tuwartz Inlet at the south end of Pitt Island which we had to ourselves.


The closer you get to the major population centers of Vancouver/Victoria, the anchorages get more and more crowded.  The photo below was taken in Montague Harbour on Galliano Island on Labor Day weekend.


While we prefer the more secluded anchorage, the crowded anchorage can be lovely and pleasant.  The key is setting your expectations appropriately (e.g., don’t expect solitude on Labor Day weekend in the Gulf Islands).

Ultimately, it is the memory of that first photo that gives us the motivation to travel those many miles each season back to SE Alaska.